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This Floridian Life: Ira Glass On Our Weird Stories

Stuart Mullenberg

There's been an ongoing debate among the staff in our newsroom about whether Florida really is weirder than the other states.  In December, we set out to produce a feature -- one segment -- about the weirdest stories of the year. Those stories spilled into three separate segments, and we could have easily kept going. But still, maybe it  just seems like we're weirder because this is where we are, this is what we know. Isn't New Orleans weird? Isn't Chicago? (Well sure, but those are cities, not entire states.)

Now the verdict's in. Ira Glass, arbiter of American storytelling, says, "It'd be hard to name a single state that's more interesting."

Interesting. For better and worse.

“I mean Florida is just one of the most F’d-up places in the country. There’s just no other way to say it,” says the host of "This American Life," who's coming to Davie Saturday night (March 15) for a talk at Bailey Hall on the Broward College campus. "It’s such a weird mix of things." He rattles off a list including the mortgage crisis, immigration detention, our aging population, spring break, Disney World and Bush versus Gore. 

That, of course, is the stuff great stories are made of, which is why so many of the show's stories have happened here. 


A kid falls head over heels for this  girl at his Palm Beach County high school, only to discover the hard way that she's definitely not who she says she is. (This story's about to become a musical -- a musical -- at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.)

Hitler's yacht is discovered in Jacksonville. "It had to end up somewhere after the war, says Glass. "Where did it end up? Florida."

Remember the colony of sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach? This American Life dives into how that whole thing happened.  

A Fort Lauderdale mailman intervenes when he sees a stabbing in a parking lot, after a bunch of other people look on without doing anything.
Through some impressive detective work, an unhappy kid from North Carolina figures out where in rural Florida his favorite sci-fi writer lives and makes his way there. 

 The show devotes an entire hour to big questions surrounding the killing of a man with ties to the Boston Marathon bomber by the FBI in Orlando.

For more, take a look at the show's Story Globe

Credit This American Life
This American Life
A slice of This American Life's Story Globe shows where some of the show's Florida stories took place.

Alicia Zuckerman has loved audio since she was a kid listening to comedy albums and call-in radio advice shows she probably shouldn't have been listening to. She is Editorial Director at WLRN where she edits narrative and investigative audio journalism. She routinely reminds reporters to find and make moments of joy, which is how she learned you can grow mangoes on a balcony, and about the popularity of Manischewitz in the Caribbean. In 2020, she was named Editor of the Year by the Society of Professional Journalists Florida chapter.